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Civil Contractors Federation SA

Yes, but what are you actually doing about the road trains?

Berri resident, Murray Pioneer reader and truck licence holder MICHAEL LODER has penned the following view on the State Government’s controversial move to allow B-triples and road trains through the Moorook and Loxton townships, and local response to the decision.

SARA Gilligan reported on September 22 that Loxton Waikerie Mayor Leon Stasinowsky had “slammed” the recent decision for enormous road trains to now trundle dangerously through Moorook and Loxton streets (‘Anger over new local freight route’, Murray Pioneer).

Fair go, Leon.

You knew about this looming disaster three months ago and your only response then was to just write a letter to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI).

How interesting the DPTI did not respond at all and that Leon’s council did not agitate a bit more with a firm phone call or two, perhaps using Pauline Hanson’s famous catchline.

Just to be clear, this decision re-routes mega-size trucks from the Sturt Highway at Kingston-On-Murray past the Loxton playground and past local pensioners in gophers shopping near the top of the main street roundabout.

It will mean trucks with 650hp diesel engines, pulling 70 tonnes on three separate trailers over 35m long, will have to firstly stop all of that weight at the Loxton High School crossing, then noisily resume progress, most likely affecting the quality of teaching instruction during these times.

After lumbering through the Loxton streets, these bitumen behemoths will eventually divert off the Loxton-Berri road to Yamba.

This decision will be in place now for years until either Paringa Bridge is replaced or a new bridge is built across the Lyrup flats.

All the while, no vehicles will be able to overtake them from the Kingston turn-off through Moorook and Loxton, and even onto Yamba, as there are no overtaking lanes planned to support this wondrous move.

ON that note, if we simply only replace Paringa Bridge, then all these road trains will – instead of coming through Moorook and Loxton – trundle down the existing Sturt Highway from the Monash bypass turn-off into Renmark.

Parents with little kids in family sedans visiting Maccas and KFC will have to negotiate the road outside with huge road trains normally only seen on the way to the Northern Territory.

As the name suggests, road trains are very, very big and are rather difficult to stop in a short distance for emergencies, just like their namesakes that travel on rails.

So, Loxton’s problem now could also become Renmark’s concern down the track.

The antique structure of the Paringa bridge blocks National Highway 1 with its single lane chicane entrance either side and we should replace it urgently.

Our local (Liberal) member Tim Whetstone and our national (Liberal) Senator Anne Ruston have been asked in this forum for their thoughts on replacement.

Similar to Leon Stasinowsky waiting patiently for a response from the DPTI, we heard nothing back from Tim (still in opposition of course, here in SA), or more importantly from Anne at federal level (who is not in opposition).

To be fair, in response to Loxton’s dilemma hosting the new regional freight route, Tim insinuated (Murray Pioneer, 26/9/17) that the state of the Kingston Bridge was also now in question.

Really? Do tell us more, Tim.

The ridiculous waffle in another article about this freight route deviation enhancing farmers’ access to markets was pure tripe while avoiding the real elephant in the room: that they are simply too big and heavy for the dilapidated old bridge at Paringa.

NATIONAL heavy vehicle operators will also be immensely pleased they have to now deviate off the 110km/h Sturt Hwy (National Highway 1) at Kingston-On-Murray.

They will enjoy a lengthy scenic route through numerous 60km/h speed limits and negotiate various towns and quiet streets, along with elderly country retirees driving little white cars, that will surely test their abilities, if not their insurance.

All the while their diesel fuel use is escalating. So, how does all that insulate burgeoning regional freight costs?

EARLIER this year I asked Premier Jay Weatherill of Labor’s plans for a bridge replacement and unlike Leon, I actually got a written response within a few weeks.

There are indeed developed plans to replace Paringa Bridge, if we are prepared of course to wait for about 15 or

more years before this might happen.

You can find it all here as part of Minister Stephen Mulligan’s response to my queries: ITLUP_Murray_and_ Mallee_Region.pdf

Loxton residents might be suitably crushed when they see the timeframe for a Paringa Bridge replacement is only after the planned construction of the new Truro bypass.

The list chronologically notes that Truro will get a bypass first, Renmark bypass possibly next and lastly a Paringa Bridge replacement.

No mention of a new bridge across the Lyrup flats joining up the existing National Highway 1 Monash bypass with Yamba (avoiding all towns and maintaining 110km/h) which makes much more sense.

By comparison and not so fair at all, Murray Bridge is being considered for “duplication” of the Swanport bridge, meaning they will get a third bridge across the Murray.

That will cement the Duke’s Highway as the premier freight route to the eastern states into the future, when Paringa Bridge eventually suffers an untimely closure (remember the Blanchetown bridge?) and there is no other alternative.

A STATE election is coming like a freight train next March (forgive the obvious metaphor), so I again ask the relevant politicians to respond publicly in this forum.

Please advise your thoughts about a Paringa Bridge replacement and more importantly a brand new Lyrup flats bypass bridge. Are they right up there at the top of the to do list for Liberal governments at both state and federal level?

Tell us how many jobs that might generate locally, for the short and long term, and how much flow-on capital could be expected to invigorate local contractors and businesses.

We need to hear about what you’re actually going to do – right now – about re-routed road trains demolishing Loxton’s main streets and the State Labor Government’s apparent lack of plans (within the next five years at least) to replace the Paringa Bridge.

Given the timely MP editorial recently about Tim Whetstone now facing real opposition next April from the newly endorsed Labor candidate and a Team Xenophon candidate yet to be identified (‘Bet on Chaffey race being closer’, Pioneer, 19/9/17), perhaps it’s prudent we also hear from those parties offering to represent us next April about their particular solutions for these issues.

“We need to hear about what you’re going to do – right now – about re-routed road trains demolishing Loxton’s main streets…

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Civil Contractors Federation (CCF SA) is an industry association that promotes, protects and represents companies and other organisations with business interest in civil (construction) contracting. The CCF SA helps its Members obtain more work, work more effectively and make more money.